Exits predicted for baby boom docs

by ArabianBusiness.com

Almost half of US physicians aged between 50 and 65 years of age are planning to downsize or end their clinical practice in the next one to three years, a survey has indicated.

The findings also suggest that many older physicians believe that their younger counterparts do not have the work ethic they do.

The survey, which was conducted by Merritt Hawkins & Associates, a Texas-based physician search and consulting firm, suggests that the older generation of doctors are simply unhappy with the changes that have taken place in medicine over the years.

“When baby boom doctors entered medicine they had control over how they practised and the fee they charged. But the rules changed on them in mid-stream and now many are looking for a ticket out,” Mark Smith, executive vice president of Merritt Hawkins & Associates, said in a statement.

“Our study is the only one I am aware of that examines the career plans of physicians in the 50-to-65 age group.”

This age group represents more than one third of all physicians currently in practice in the US. Should they choose to stop working in the next three years, it will have a “significant impact” on the overall supply of physicians, Smith said.

The results of the survey, which included 1,170 respondents, show that 24% of older physicians are planning to leave clinical practice all together in the next one to three years. Specifically, 14% said they were planning on retiring, 7% said they were looking for a medical job in a non-patient care setting, and 3% said they were seeking a job in a non-medical field.

For those physicians not leaving clinical practice, many said they would make changes to reduce the amount of patients they treat. 12% said they would begin working part-time, 8% said they planned to stop taking new patients or markedly reduce their patient load, and 4% expressed a desire to work on a temporary basis.

When asked about the work ethic of physicians entering practice today, 68% of the respondents said that these younger doctors are not as dedicated or as hard working as physicians who entered practice 20 to 30 years ago.

Fifty-seven percent of older physicians said they would not recommend medicine as a career to their own children. Similarly, 44% said they would not select medicine as career if they were starting out today.

“About one half of physicians surveyed plan to either abandon patient care in the next one to three years, or significantly reduce the number of patients they see,” Smith said. “The US already is facing a widespread shortage of physicians. Should older, ‘workhorse’ physicians choose to opt out of patient care, access to medical services will be further restricted.”
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